1. Make it a priority.
Like anything you really want, you need to decide that traveling during your study abroad experience is a top priority. Research costs of travel and make a savings goal before you leave. List ways you’ll cut back spending and make extra cash.
2. Save before you study abroad.
Know where you want to go—make a list, look up photos online, read wikitravel and Lonely Planet guides. Check out which trips you want to plan independently and which ones to bring in the experts for, like a Global Citizens Travel trip to anywhere from Spain to Slovakia. With daily visual reminders and lots of research, keep in mind how cool it will be to take advantage of your time abroad to travel the world.
With your goals in mind, it’ll be easier to cut extra spending before you go. Skip the daily Starbucks, new clothes, or even the booze-y, expensive spring break trip. It’s amazing how cheap off-peak international travel to places like Morocco and even China. can be compared to an overpriced, peak-week spring break trip to the Caribbean, Florida or Cancun.
Use every opportunity to put aside some savings. Got stuff you don’t need anymore? Old textbooks, clothes, an old iPod you never use? Sell it. Get a part-time job. Ask for cash for your birthday or during the holidays for your “travel fund.”
3. Save while you study abroad.
A lot of cash gets drained every time you eat out, shop for souvenirs, and party. Consider hitting up a grocery store or farmer’s market and packing a lunch every once in a while. Have cereal or fruit ready for breakfast. Pregame before you go out. Take public transportation or walk to and from class—you’ll get a better feel for your study abroad location on the ground than from the backseat of a taxi. And some exercise isn’t a bad idea if you’re regularly devouring French baguettes or tasty Italian pizzas!
You may also consider working while abroad. This can be before, during or after your semester. Maybe take an extra semester off school to au pair, WWOOF, or work at a hostel to save money and travel on weekends.
4. Save when making travel plans.
Making your way to the next country over doesn’t have to empty your bank account. Discount airlines, advanced planning (as well as last minute deals), long-distance buses, cheap trains, even, if you’re up for it and find something safe, catching city-to-city carpools, all help cut costs. Use public transport to get to the airport—discount airlines often fly out of a separate airport, so plan ahead of time.
5. Save while you travel.
Some countries may have cheap restaurant food (ask the locals for a good, cheap option), but you can also get a sense of the culture from the locals’ perspective by picking up groceries or farmer’s market treats and having a picnic. Take public transportation and skip the taxis. Stay in a hostel instead of a hotel and make friends with other travelers—having a group to travel with can cut costs on group tours and outings. Pregame in the hostel with a shared bottle of local liquor (like arak in Israel or ouzo in Greece) before you go out at night. Send postcards instead of buying souvenirs for all your friends back home.
At the same time, know that this might be your only chance to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. After cutting costs in all the ways listed above, don’t be afraid to spend on those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Chill out on a glacier in Iceland, stay up all night partying in one of Ibiza’s famous clubs, and learn to kitesurf in Poland! Global Citizens Travel can help you organize these trips and more, for yourself or in a private group. Reward yourself for all your hard work saving up by choosing those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Katie Simon is the director of community engagement for Global Citizens Travel. She’s been to 63 countries on 5 continents and looks forward to traveling to the 100+ more! If you have questions for Katie, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org